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He felt a sudden surge of emotions within him upon hearing his father addressing him with such a term of endearment.

He took the agreement from his father’s hands and perused it before saying, “I think the terms stated are more than lenient and generous.”

Mr. Jin nodded and said, “I’ll have someone bring them here and get your mother to sign it.”

Mr. Jin then gestured for the servants to bring Mrs. Jin and the butler, both of whom had been locked up the entire morning.

An Xiaoning held onto Jin Qingyan’s arm and remained silent throughout.

More than ten minutes later, she heard footsteps approaching.

An Xiaoning looked up to see a dishevelled Mrs. Jin, who appeared aged and haggard with her bare face and unkempt hair.

The butler had also entered.

Jin Qingyue cried out even louder upon seeing them.

“The DNA test results are already out. Here’s the divorce agreement. Sign it and leave while taking nothing with you, or face a death sentence in prison. It’s up to you to decide,” said Mr. Jin, staring at her without a tinge of reluctance in his voice.

Staring at the divorce agreement, Mrs. Jin scoffed, “Nowadays, it’s acceptable for a man to have an affair outside his marriage, yet a woman ought to be punished for being unfaithful, is that so? I have Qingyue, but don’t you have an illegitimate daughter too!?! What rights have you got to act all lofty and proper!?!”

“Did I kill your mother? You made the child’s life hard while she struggled to live here for twelve years, after which she disappeared all of a sudden. You actually have the cheek to bring that up!” Mr. Jin snapped, glaring daggers at her.

Mrs. Jin did not respond and turned to face Jin Qingyan instead. “Qingyan, do you really wish for your father and I to get a divorce too?”

With a look of agony, Jin Qingyan answered, “You two ought to settle this between yourselves, just like how no one should meddle in my matters. Don’t forget, you killed Grandma and framed Xiaoning. I’m ashamed to have you as my mother.”

“You… you’re going to leave me be, is that it is?” said Mrs. Jin as tears welled up in her eyes.

An Xiaoning absolutely detested emotional blackmailing. Thus, she interjected, “Qingyan is not going to stop caring about you, he’s still your son after all. He won’t let you starve to death. He’s just very disappointed in you because you’ve ruined his impression of you as a dutiful mother.”

“You’re just an outsider. You’re in no position to poke your nose in our family matters,” Mrs. Jin hissed.

“How could I possibly be an outsider? I’ll be registering my marriage with Qingyan later,” An Xiaoning said without hesitation.

Jin Qingyan shot her a joyous glance, as if asking: “Really?”

“Is that the case?” said Mrs. Jin, staring at the ground.

“Sign the papers, quick. We’ll go ahead with the proceedings in secret afterwards,” Mr. Jin reiterated.

Mrs. Jin walked towards the table and took another glance at the divorce agreement. She then bent forward to sign her name and stamp her fingerprint onto the papers.

After she finished signing the agreement, she turned behind to look at Jin Qingyue.

Jin Qingyue had been crying continuously, her tears knowing no limits.

“Qingyue…”

Just as her mother called her name, Jin Qingyue yelled at the top of her lungs, “Don’t call me!”

She struggled to get on her feet and glared at her biological parents. Teary-eyed, she hollered, “You two are inhumane! Mother, how could you kill Grandma? Since I was young, I’ve been hearing you tell me about Father’s affair and his illegitimate child. But look at you! What sets you apart from Father? I’ve always thought I was different from Father’s illegitimate daughter and often chastised her and despised her. Yet, it turns out she’s Father’s biological daughter and I’m not!”

The butler stood aside and said cautiously, “Missy…”

Jin Qingyue grew into an uncontrollable rage. “Shut up! I’ll never acknowledge you as my father. Now that Mother is divorced, you two may very well just live together and stay away from me. I don’t wish to see such a repulsive and adulterous pair like you two!”

Jin Qingyan pulled An Xiaoning up and said to Jin Qingyue, “Let me send you home.”

Jin Qingyue walked away from the couch. Mrs. Jin tried to stop her, only to be pushed away forcefully. Jin Qingyue then left.

Upon getting into the car, Jin Qingyue fell silent.

After a while, she finally spoke up, “Brother, I hope these scandalous news will never spread to outsiders.”

“Yes, that goes without saying.”

“Brother, you’re the only kin I have now. There’s no way I’m allowed to return to the old mansion anymore. I wonder if Father will make me remove my surname,” Jin Qingyue said slowly.

“He will remove you from the household register and family bloodline record, but he wouldn’t make you change your surname. You’re married now anyway, your surname shouldn’t matter anymore. You are to keep this matter from Shi Shaochuan, lest you create unnecessary trouble for yourself. If you let him know about this, he might see you in a different light,” Jin Qingyan instructed.

If this were in the past, Jin Qingyue would definitely defend Shi Shaochuan and say confidently that he would love her the same regardless of her family background.

However, she now realized that anything was possible, should Shi Shaochuan hear about the matter.

Thus, she would remain tight-lipped for sure.

“Yes, I won’t tell him. I’m not that silly.”

Jin Qingyan expressed assent and tried to comfort her, “Stop crying, you’re pregnant right now. What would happen if you scare the baby? I’m still your brother, aren’t I?”

Jin Qingyue was heartened and relieved to hear that.

Jin Qingyan dropped Jin Qingyue off at her home before returning to the old mansion together with Xiaoning.

“Why are we here again?” asked An Xiaoning.

“Don’t forget, you said you wanted to go register our marriage together.”

“I was just kidding.”

“But I took it for real. I hereby proclaim that the agreement we signed earlier is now invalid. Let’s get married right away,” Jin Qingyan said bluntly.

“Jin Qingyan…”

“By the way, the pact you made with my mother to get pregnant within a year is also invalid now. She’s no longer the matriarch of the Jin family, and thus, she has no rights to tell us what to do. Xiaoning, I love you. You are free.”

“I was being impulsive when I said that,” An Xiaoning struggled to explain.

“KIlling someone on impulse is still killing. You did say it, even if you were being impulsive.”

“Do you really wish to marry me so badly?”

“Yes, I’d really like you to marry me again. Xiaoning, I want to use the rest of my life to prove to you that, no matter what happens, I’ll still love you, pamper you, and give in to you. You’ll be my queen from now on, you call the shots.”

“But, Qingyan, I don’t feel secure if we don’t have children.”

“I am the security you need. You are the security you need. Why do you need to have children in order not to be insecure? We’re the ones who ought to give ourselves that sense of security. Got it, Xiaoning? We never know what the future holds, and we can’t promise what will happen. I really need us to be husband and wife, our marriage means a lot to me. Xiaoning, I’m willing to sign an agreement with you. Once we get married, 99% of my wealth and assets shall belong to you. I’ll use that to prove that you’re the only one I’ll adore, be it now or in the future,” said Jin Qingyan.